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Advocates For Access: Advocacy is a Core Service

Submitted by Glenna Tharp, Independent Living Specialist

Did you know PACE holds monthly open meetings to organize advocacy efforts? This meeting is known as Advocates for Access (AFA). Advocacy is, and has been, a core service area of PACE, and the Independent Living Movement, from its beginning. Installation of audible crosswalks, preventing construction of roundabouts, and captioned movies in local theaters are examples of AFA efforts to make our community more accessible to people with disabilities.

Our advocates also educate businesses and government agencies about accessibility. We have a flyer for business owners with the title “Accessibility is Good Business.” If a store owner or manager wonders if they are serving all potential customers, we are eager to do an assessment of their facility and point out how to make their business more accessible to people with disabilities – a market they may be missing. Just because a person has a disability does not mean they don’t have money to spend.

With the passage of the ADA and its enforcement in regard to curb cuts and other architectural changes allowing accessibility for all, there have been improvements in physical barriers. However attitudinal
and systemic barriers still exist. With fewer physical barriers in our community there has been a recent need for advocacy beyond the local level and dealing with systemic and attitudinal barriers. For example, is it right for a person to only have $2,000 in assets if they are on SSI? This prevents people with disabilities from saving money beyond what they might need for emergencies.

The heart of AFA is our volunteers and consumers. If you are aware of an unfair issue needing to be addressed, we hope you will consider taking action to correct it. One way is to join AFA and become involved. Meetings are held, here at PACE, the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm in the conference room. All are welcome.

*It is best to call in advance in case of a rare schedule change.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.

~ Margaret Mead

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